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The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money in Singapore – 5 Tips & Tricks

Saving money can be a challenging task, especially in Singapore, where the cost of living is high. As someone who has lived in Singapore for several years, I have learned a few tips and tricks to save money without compromising on my quality of life.

Whether you’re a student, a working professional, or a retiree, saving money is essential to achieve your financial goals and improve your quality of life. In this guide, I will be sharing some practical tips that you can incorporate into your daily life to save money without sacrificing your lifestyle. From setting a budget and shopping smart to cutting down on dining out and taking public transportation, these tips can help you to reduce your expenses and increase your savings in Singapore.

1. Follow the 50/30/20 rule

The 50/30/20 rule is a popular budgeting strategy that suggests dividing your income into three categories: 50% for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings. By following this rule, you can prioritize your expenses and save money for your financial goals. Here’s how you can apply the 50/30/20 rule in Singapore:

  • Needs: Your needs category should include expenses that are essential for your daily living, such as housing, transportation, food, and utilities. Aim to allocate 50% of your income for these expenses.
  • Wants: Your wants category should include expenses that are not essential but desirable, such as entertainment, dining out, and shopping. Aim to allocate 30% of your income for these expenses.
  • Savings: Your savings category should include expenses that are meant for your financial goals, such as emergency funds, retirement funds, and investments. Aim to allocate 20% of your income for these expenses.

Assuming a monthly net income of $5,000 after CPF, here’s how you can allocate your expenses:

Needs CategoryAllocation (%)Amount (SGD)
Rent or Mortgage201,000
Budget allocation of Needs
Wants CategoryAllocation (%)Amount (SGD)
Dining Out6300
Budget allocation of Wants
Savings CategoryAllocation (%)Amount (SGD)
Emergency Fund4200
Retirement Fund10500
Investment Fund6300
Budget allocation of Savings

Of course, your actual expenses may vary depending on your individual circumstances and financial goals. The 50/30/20 rule is just a general guideline to help you balance your spending and savings.

2. Use smart shopping tips

Shopping is an essential part of our lives but it can also be a significant expense. However, there are several ways to shop smart and save money in the process.

Here are some tips that have worked for me:

  • Compare prices: Before making a purchase, compare prices across different retailers or online stores. By doing so, you can identify the best deals and save money on your purchases.
  • Use cashback or reward programs: Several cashback or reward programs are available in Singapore, which offer cashback, discounts, or points for purchases made at partner retailers or merchants. Shopping apps like Shopback or Fave offer cashback or discounts on your purchases. By using these programs, you can save money on your purchases and accumulate rewards or points that can be redeemed later.
  • Buy second-hand or pre-loved items: Several websites or marketplaces are available in Singapore, which allow you to buy or sell second-hand or pre-loved items. By buying second-hand items, you can save money on your purchases and reduce waste.
  • In Singapore, there are many hot ecommerce shopping events such as Singles’ Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These events attract customers with huge discounts, free gifts and shipping. As a thrifty Singaporean, I will usually add my items into the cart and only checkout when there is a big sale going on. 
Smart shopping tips

3. Cut down on dining out

Dining out can be expensive in Singapore, and it’s easy to spend a lot of money on food. On average, a visit to a restaurant can set you back $20-$40 per person for a simple meal including taxes. However, there are several ways to cut down on food expenses without compromising on taste and nutrition.

Here are some tips that have helped me save money on food:

  • Meal planning and cooking at home: Meal planning and cooking at home are effective ways to save money on food expenses. By planning your meals in advance and buying groceries in bulk, you can save money on ingredients and avoid impulse purchases. Plus, you’ll have more control over the nutritional value and taste of your meals.
  • Eating at hawker centres or food courts: Singapore is famous for its hawker centres and food courts, which offer a wide range of delicious and affordable food options. By eating at hawker centres or food courts instead of restaurants, you can save money on food and enjoy local cuisine. An average daily lunch at a hawker centre can be as low as S$4 whereas at a food court you can have lunch for about S$5 – S$6. 
  • Buying groceries in bulk: Buying groceries in bulk is a smart way to save money on food expenses. By buying non-perishable items such as rice, pasta, and canned goods in bulk, you can save money on unit costs and reduce your trips to the grocery store. If you do grocery shopping frequently, you can significantly reduce your grocery bills with these 10 simple tips.

Recently, DBS Paylah has launched a new cashback initiative with its application. Singaporeans will be able to enjoy a cashback of up to $3 when they pay for a hawker centre meal using the DBS Paylah! app on every Friday, starting Feb 10. This promotion is applicable for any of the 11,600 SGQR-enabled hawker stalls island-wide. With this initiative, you potentially have to pay only $2 for your average lunch at a hawker centre.
*I have been using the promotion to pay for my hawker lunch meal every Friday. Although it is only limited to the first 100,000 users every Friday, I can still redeem the cashback even at 8pm.

4. Reduce transportation costs

Transportation is a significant expense for people living in Singapore, especially if you own a car. However, there are several ways to reduce transportation costs and save money.

Here are some strategies that have worked for me:

  • Take public transportation: The public transportation system in Singapore is extensive, efficient, and affordable. By taking buses and trains instead of driving, you can save money on fuel, parking, and maintenance costs. Plus, you’ll get to your destination faster and avoid traffic jams.
  • Carpool with colleagues or friends: If you have colleagues or friends who live or work near you, consider carpooling. By sharing the ride, you can split the cost of fuel and tolls, and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Cycle to work: Cycling is a great way to save money on transportation costs and stay fit. If you live within cycling distance of your workplace, consider getting a bicycle and cycling to work. You’ll save money on fuel and parking, and get some exercise in the process.
  • Avoid ride hailing and taxis: Ride hailing applications such as Grab and Gojek have been getting more expensive nowadays. Now, this is something that even Grab themselves have acknowledged. Each ride can easily set the passenger around $20-$30 for a 30 minute ride. You can easily get 6 packs of chicken rice with that amount. 
Cost ComparisonPublic TransportationTaxi
Base Fare$0.83 – $2.40 (depending on distance)$3.90 – $5.00 (depending on distance and time of day)
Additional Fees$0.16 – $0.42 (depending on distance)$0.22 – $0.33 (depending on distance and time of day)
Peak Hour SurchargeNone$1.00 – $3.00 (depending on time of day)
Waiting Time$0.10 per minute after 5 minutes of waiting$0.33 per minute after 3 minutes of waiting
Average Cost for a 10km Trip$1.83 – $4.70$15.40 – $30.33
Cost savings of taking public transport

As you can see, taking public transportation in Singapore is significantly cheaper than taking a taxi. Plus, you also get the added benefit of avoiding traffic and contributing to a more sustainable environment.

Reduce transportation costs

5. Find affordable entertainment options

Entertainment is an essential part of our lives, but it can also be a significant expense. However, there are several ways to enjoy entertainment without breaking the bank. Here are some strategies that have worked for me:

  • Use discount apps: There are several discount apps available in Singapore that offer affordable deals on movies, attractions, and dining options. By using these apps, you can save money on entertainment expenses and explore new places. Some popular discount apps include Fave, Chope, and Eatigo. By using these apps, you can save money on entertainment expenses and explore new places.
  • Attend free events: Singapore has several free events throughout the year, such as music festivals, art exhibitions, and cultural events. For example, the Singapore Night Festival is an annual event that features light installations, performances, and interactive exhibits. Another popular event is the Singapore Art Week, which showcases contemporary art from around the world. By attending these events, you can save money on entertainment and learn more about Singapore’s culture and heritage.
  • Explore nature parks: Exploring nature parks is another great way to enjoy entertainment without spending a lot of money. Singapore is home to several beautiful nature parks, such as the Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, and MacRitchie Reservoir. These parks offer a peaceful retreat from the city and are perfect for a weekend getaway. You can enjoy a picnic, take a stroll, or go for a bike ride while enjoying the natural beauty of Singapore. Plus, it’s a great way to get some exercise in the process.

If you’re looking for more affordable entertainment options, there are many online resources that can help you find them. For example, websites like The Smart Local and Timeout Singapore offer guides to the best free and affordable events in Singapore. You can also check out Facebook groups or meetup groups that focus on budget-friendly activities in Singapore.

Find affordable entertainment options

Final thoughts

Saving money in Singapore may seem challenging, but it is not impossible. With a little planning, discipline, and smart strategies, you can cut down on expenses and achieve your financial goals. Remember to always prioritize your needs, allocate a portion of your income to savings, and indulge in wants only after ensuring the former two categories are met.

I hope the tips and strategies outlined in this article help you save money and achieve your financial goals in Singapore. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. Happy saving!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. Every individual’s financial situation is unique, and it is essential to consult a financial advisor or professional before making any financial decisions.


1. How much should I save for emergencies?

It’s recommended that you have at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses saved for emergencies. This can include expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, transportation, and other essential expenses. However, the exact amount you should save will depend on your individual circumstances, such as your income, expenses, and job stability. If you have dependents or a higher risk of unexpected expenses, you may need to save more. If you want to find out more, be sure to read my blog on how to build an emergency fund.

2. Should I focus on paying off debt or saving for emergencies first?

It’s important to have both a plan to pay off debt and to save for emergencies. However, if you have high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, it’s usually better to prioritize paying that off first. This is because the interest on the debt will continue to accumulate and make it harder to pay off over time. Once you have paid off high-interest debt, you can then focus on building up your emergency savings.

3. What are some common budgeting mistakes to avoid?

One common budgeting mistake is not tracking your expenses and underestimating how much you are spending. This can lead to overspending and difficulty sticking to your budget. Another mistake is not accounting for irregular expenses, such as annual insurance premiums or vehicle maintenance costs. It’s important to include these expenses in your budget and set aside money for them each month. Additionally, some people may set unrealistic expectations for their budget or not leave enough room for discretionary spending, which can make it harder to stick to the budget over time.

4. How can I increase my income to improve my financial situation?

There are several ways to increase your income, such as asking for a raise at work, taking on a side job or freelance work, selling items you no longer need or use, or investing in stocks or real estate. However, it’s important to also consider the potential risks and drawbacks of each option and weigh them against the potential benefits. It’s also important to be realistic about how much time and effort you can dedicate to additional work or investments without compromising your overall well-being.

Eugene Chai

Eugene Chai is a seasoned financial expert with over 4 years of experience. His work has graced the pages of prominent Singapore Investment sites. He has also been featured on Channel News Asia - Money Talks. With a passion for simplifying complex financial concepts, he empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their money. Whether it's investment strategies, personal finance, or market trends, Eugene's insights are a beacon of clarity in the world of finance.

Comments (1)

  • 10 Side Hustles to Start in Singapore for Extra Income -says:

    May 20, 2023 at 1:58 pm

    […] There are plenty of side hustles you can start in Singapore to make some extra money. Whether you’re looking to earn a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars, there’s a side hustle out there for you. By starting a side hustle, you can improve your financial situation and gain new skills and experiences. Besides earning extra income, it is also important to cut down on your expenses. If you’re interested to learn more about how you can have more with less, do read my ultimate guide on how to save money in Singapore. […]

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